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Concertgoers wait for band to appear

An attendee flashes a “rock on” sign and shows off his concert gear during opening day of Rock Fest in Cadott in 2017.

Though quiet now, Cadott’s fields will soon be filled with wrestlers, zombies and dedicated fans.

Celebrating 25 years of rocking the Chippewa Valley, Rock Fest will welcome fans back to the fest grounds Thursday, July 12, and will run through Saturday, July 14.

The event will bring back seasoned Rock Fest performers and well-known bands who have never been to the event, said Chippewa Valley Music Festivals community events coordinator Abby Maliszewski.

Incubus and Disturbed will headlining the Rock Fest stages for the first time on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, Maliszewski said, while the festival also welcomes back the popular band Godsmack on Friday, July 13.

The festival will also host a Wednesday night Bonus Bash for three-day ticket holders, featuring Ace Frehley.

But who’s performing isn’t the only draw for avid festers, Maliszewski said. It’s the community they have built, too.

“Rock Fest is more than just music… There’s a lot of camaraderie that comes with it,” Maliszewski said. “…The Rock Fest community is so tied to each other. They meet up outside of the festival… It’s a very niche group and a very tight- knit group. Anybody that’s new to Rock Fest coming out they need to expect that this is a community and a life of its own.”

Almost like a match made in rock-n-roll heaven, the middle of the festival also lands on Friday the 13th, and organizers are encouraging fans to get into the spirit.

The festival will be hosting a zombie crawl Friday, Maliszewski said, encouraging a crowd of fans who already dress up for the annual festival to embrace the superstitious day the festival will land on.

Fans are encouraged to come to the fest grounds donning their zombie look for a chance to win meet-and-greet and pit passes. Participants will have the best chance of winning prizes between noon and 4 p.m. Friday, Maliszewski said, as organizers — also zombified — will be handing out prizes.

Along with an expanded stage on top of the festival’s hill, added video screens and improved signage in camping areas, the woods in the north campgrounds will feature a spooky, haunted half-mile stretch.

The woods will have hammocks and haunted depths for those who dare to walk through it, Maliszewski said, adding that organizers have been jokingly telling people to enter with a buddy.

“It’s so much more than just the music,” Maliszewski said. “We also like to provide activities for people to do during Rock Fest.”

Adding to that more-than-music experience, the festival will also be welcoming 15 professional wrestlers to throw down in between music sets. The wrestling is new to the festival this year, Maliszewski said, adding that these events are designed and scheduled to not interfere with performances.

Along with the added events, performances by the festival’s headliners and other musicians — such as A Day to Remember, Halestorm, Rise Against, Seether, Bush and Black Label Society among others — are main draws for rock fans, some of whom have a 25-year history of attending the festival, Maliszewski said.

Fans are inviting friends and creating banners and memorabilia to commemorate the festival’s silver anniversary, Maliszewski said.

But she wouldn’t expect anything less.

“It’s exciting. It’s especially exciting knowing we have such great fans. We put this on for them,” Maliszewski said. “This is definitely the fans’ festival.”

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Contact Samantha Stetzer at, and follow her on Twitter @SamanthaStetzer.



Samantha Stetzer is a community and city reporter for the Chippewa Herald. Contact her via email at or call her at 715-738-1610.

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